Government to Seek Urgent Measures for WTO Membership

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The Armenian government will urge the parliament to pass 22 amendmen’s to different laws regulating the trade regime within the next month as part of its efforts to join the World Trade Organization–a senior official said on Tuesday.

The amendmen’s are needed to bring Armenia’s legislation into conformity with WTO rules ahead of the next round of global trade talks in late November–according to Movses Dzavarian–a deputy minister of trade and industry.

Failure to win WTO membership during the meeting of the 134-member trade body in Seattle would push Armenia’s accession process back several years. But Dzavarian–who headed a government delegation that held bilateral talks in Geneva late last week–said Armenia’s accession is likely during the Seattle meeting. In an interview with RFE/RL–he said a full package of trade agreemen’s was signed with six more WTO members.

He said a collective agreement with the European is due to be sealed next week. But he added that Yerevan has yet to overcome objections made by Canada and Australia–which demand a commitment not to set agricultural import tariffs above 5 percent. Agricultural goods imported to Armenia are not taxed at present but in the words of Dzavarian the government will introduce 15 percent duties some time in the future to protect domestic farmers. Still–the deputy minister assured–those differences will likely be patched up in the next few weeks.

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